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[Closed] The Criminal Justice (Prosecution and Trial) Act 2013
Criminal Justice (Prosecution and Trials) Act 2013
An Act to allow prosecutors to charge defendants with multiple offences of the same type for the same incident and for connected purposes
BE IT ENACTED, by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—
- “Multiple offences of the same type” is taken to mean a plurality of charges that amount to different severities of the same action
- “Either Way” offences shall be taken to mean offences that may be tried either as summary or indictable only offences
- During “either way” or indictment trials where members of the jury have found a defendant not guilty of an offence they shall have discretion to find a defendant guilty of a lesser offence instead.
- It shall be incumbent upon the trial judge to inform the jury of their potential findings and the implication thereof
Short Title, Commencement, and Extent
- This Act may be cited as the Criminal Justice (Prosecution and Trials) Act 2013
- This Act comes into force 3 months from the date it receives Royal Assent
- This Act extends to England and Wales
The criminal justice system in our country appears to many to be too lenient when it comes to offences that we prosecute defendants for. Where perhaps the offence looks like it could be a Section 18 GBH we instead seek to prosecute at a Section 20, whilst to many in this House that might not raise too many red flags the reality is that it should. The fact that a prosecutor is in many instances forced to seek a lesser charge for fear of losing the prosecution altogether means that many convicted men and women are getting far lesser sentences than perhaps their crime deserves. Take the two GBH charges I mentioned just a second ago, the maximum custodial sentence on indictment for Section 18 GBH is life, the maximum sentence for a Section 20 GBH is seven years.
Mr Speaker in the United States of America they have devised a most elegant solution to this problem. Whereas in the United Kingdom we force our prosecutors to try for one offence and prohibit juries, with some exceptions, from finding the defendant guilty of a lesser charge; in the United States they allow for a sliding scale of offences to be tried at once. If we were to apply this principle to an assault in this country a prosecutor could try to prosecute under Section 18 of the Offences Against the Person Act (Grievous Bodily Harm with Intention), however if the Jury are not satisfied about all elements of the case they could find the defendant not guilty of S.18 but then find him guilty of a Section 20 GBH or a Section 40 Actual Bodily Harm.
Mr Speaker, nobody in this House wants to see criminals walk away with anything less than the just deserts of their crime. Our current system is forcing prosecutors to abandon higher prosecutions in favour of lesser sentences and lesser offences because they fear that they may not be able to prove every aspect of the case to every jury in the land. In our current system that usually means that it's not worth their while even trying to, I'm sure everyone here agrees that we should at least give prosecutors the chance to try.
Mr Speaker, I commend this bill to the House and await the response of the Leader of the House.
Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire
Leader of the Opposition (2014-16)
Prime Minister (2014)
Parliamentary Experience: Novice (25)
Media Experience: Experienced (62)
Policy Experience: Novice (29)